Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Talara in Harbor East

The boyfriend and I decided to snag a rare happy hour drink at Talara due to the fact that it was less than half a block away from Landmark Theaters. I’ve been dying to try their seviche (which they are known for) but I’d settle for a cocktail. For those that are unfamiliar with seviche it is,

“…marinated in a citrus-based mixture, with lemons and limes being the most
commonly used. In addition to adding flavor, the citric acid causes the proteins
in the seafood to become denatured, which pickles or "cooks" the fish without
heat.” (Thanks Wikipedia!)

We sat at a table in the bar area which was packed with other people who were enjoying a beautiful Friday Happy Hour. The mood was festive, the hostesses were pleasant, and we had prompt and friendly service from one of the bar servers. We explained that we were just getting a few drinks before our movie. I ordered a caipirinha which is described as "Traditional Brazilian cocktail made with Cachaca, fresh lime and Turbinado sugar" and the BF ordered a mojito. The server quickly got our drinks. He also left a happy hour menu and regular menu with us because we had mentioned that this was our first time visiting Talara. You could tell that all of his tables were well tended to and he also took a few minutes to tell us what he really enjoyed on the menu. The food that did pass our tables looked absolutely gorgeous! I love seviche so with every passing dish I was afraid I would start drooling. The server encouraged us to come back and to enjoy our show as we paid the bill.

I have to admit that I had spent most of the time during the sub par movie fantasizing about seviche. Our experience was so delightful in the afternoon that we decided to have a late dinner at Talara as well! We arrived around 9:00pm and were immediately seated. I was ecstatic when we did not have to wait for a table, this place always looks packed!

Once again we were promptly approached and our drink order taken by a female server. This is when things started to get weird, after about 5 minutes an older male server came over to our table to confirm the order. By then we should have had the drinks. The female server was the person who delivered our drinks. She was a rather pleasant person and did not seem at all frazzled. She asked if we had any questions about seviche or the overall menu. We did not, as stated I had been placing this order in my head for about 2 1/2 hours! We had decided on the traditional and fire and ice seviche made with mahi mahi, bistec which is a quesadilla like Philly cheese steak, and seafood paella to be eaten family style. As she was taking our order the male server came back over to explain to us what seviche is and how we should eat it. The female server looked confused by the male server as did we. We told him that we were ready to order and did not need the descriptions. He proceeded to take our order and gave up over the top compliments on our food selections. I had now put together the pieces that the female was in training and was shadowing the head server.

Throughout our meal we had multiple awkward experiences including the male server rubbing the BF's knee under the table. His serving style can only be described as "by the book but performed by a socially inept person". Our server during happy hour was extremely friendly but he made us comfortable. We left out of there feeling like we had made a new friend. He did the nearly impossible. He manipulated a server into giving him a big tip! Well played my friend, well played. Our dinner server kept us feeling creepy to the point that we were both on watch for him to come over to our table.

So here is my question, "Do you go to a restaurant purely based on service or the food?" Personally I went to Talara because I had heard great things about the seviche. I just needed the server to bring me my food and the bill in a timely manner and I would have been happy. The food was extremely fresh and superbly plated. I would like to go back but it is going to take some convincing for the BF. Our bill for two people was $80. I wouldn't mind it if we wouldn't have had such a bizarre experience.

My overall recommendation is to go during happy hour, enjoy the discounted drinks and appetizers and share the seviche or an entree with a friend. If there is a really tall male server who seems like he would be the head server, BAIL!
The Divine Miss J

615 President Street
Directly on the corner of Fleet and President

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